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Auto blogFri, 14 Mar 2014 18:31:00 EST
It's a good time to be in the luxury car business. In Volkswagen Group's financial report for the 2013 fiscal year, it is revealed that that Porsche enjoyed an operating margin of 18 percent. That means the Stuttgart brand made on average about $23,200 per car sold, according to BusinessWeek. Bentley wasn't far behind, and Audi (which was combined with Lamborghini) posted a 10.1 percent margin. This compares to only around 2.9 percent for the Volkswagen brand.
"Luxury brands are on fire," said Dave Sullivan, an industry analyst at AutoPacific. He said that the average profit margin is between six and eight percent. Brands like Porsche and Bentley have the benefit of competing in rarefied markets. Buyers looking at one their vehicles have fewer models to shop against and don't care as much about price. They can also charge more for options, which further boosts income, according to BusinessWeek.
In a way, we should be more impressed by the continued success from Audi. Its models generally have direct competitors in every segment from the other premium automakers. Plus, their buyers aren't the captains of industry who are shopping for a Bentley. Still, the Four Rings is leading rivals in sales so far this year.
More detail is being sketched into the Volkswagen Group's plan to launch a low-cost brand for emerging markets. Late last year a German report quoted a VW rep saying that the brand has been interested in building a no-frills car, the kind that would challenge Dacia and Datsun, for a while. With both Proton and Suzuki effectively out of the partnership picture, a report in Reuters suggests VW could go straight to China, developing a car with its joint venture partners and building and selling it there.
Officially, company CEO Martin Winterkorn said the issue of a model for emerging markets would be decided this year but VW isn't any closer to confirming any kind of plan for a car in its portfolio underneath the Up!, remarking to Reuters about the China possibility, "That's an issue we're currently looking at."
The upcoming Geneva Motor Show is going to be stocked with important new production models and sexy concept cars, but hot hatch enthusiasts will undoubtedly see it as the coming out party of the MkVII Volkswagen GTI. And while we've only got European specifications and pricing to go on for now, we can tell from the get-go that the new GTI will be a proper heir to VW's hot hatch legacy.
This seventh-generation GTI is powered by a turbocharged, direct-injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which makes 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque in base form. For the first time ever, Volkswagen is also offering a performance pack for the GTI as well, which ups the horsepower to 230 (torque remains unchanged). With a slightly lower curb weight to push around - the new base car weighs 2,978 pounds versus 3,034 for the current three-door GTI - 0-62 miles per hour is now achieved in 6.5 seconds, and top speed is 153 mph. (Cars with the performance pack offer 0-62 mph in 6.4 seconds, and a 155-mph top speed.) Buyers my choose between a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed DSG unit.
Visually, the new GTI has obviously adopted the slant-nosed looks of the MkVII Golf, though with plenty of added drama. The exterior is dominated by the 17-inch "Brooklyn" wheels wearing 225-section rubber, and the aggressive front fascia gets black honeycombed inserts in the upper and lower grille sections. At launch, Volkswagen will offer the GTI in three colors: the Pure White seen here, Tornado Red and Black. Tartan patterned seats are of course still an option for the interior, while the GTI-specific steering wheel and shift knob are standard.